home power on the grid anyone?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by MELOC, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    does anyone here have any experience generating power and remaining on the grid? i heard the power company is required to purchase any excess.

    i thought about tapping into the stream next to my home and generating hydropower but i will remain on the grid. i thought of finding a generator that needs a motor and hooking it up to a turbine.

    my original thought was to utilize the power in special areas like heating or cooling as it seems i do one or the other constantly. if i hook it into the house current via an inverter, will i have alot of power spikes etc. ? has anyone done anything similar?
     
  2. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    It's impossible to pay for your equipment selling electricy back to the power company. Most people who are grid tied and also dabble in alternative energy do it as a hobby and/or a backup power source.
     

  3. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Find out what the net metering law for your state is. It's the rules as far as what you will paid by the power company, if at all.

    Info can be found here: http://www.dsireusa.org/
     
  4. redroving

    redroving Well-Known Member

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    MELOC,
    We are on Solar Photovoltaic and our power company. We had to stay with the power company in order to get a rebate from the State of California for installing alternative use power. We are still on it since we need to add another inverter in order to generate enough for all of our usage. Right now our supply can not sustain normal usage plus anything 220.
    During the summer our PGE bills are very small (a minimum charge fee) but we do generate a small bill in the winter since the sun is lower in the horizon and our units are set for summer sun. What is nice is when there is a power outage in our area we never know about it (we have battery backup system). Eventually we will get off the grid entirely. We have no power surges or spikes. The system was put in by a professional company.
    Here in our area we only had a choice of having our meter go backwards when generating excess power to offset any power usage but they did not have a "buy back" program.
     
  5. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The power company in most states are NOT required, not to mention the fact they you will spend more money than you can make. Also keep in mind when they do buy it is at wholesale rates so .02c instead of the 13+ they charge you.
     
  6. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Buyback prices vary wildly,depending on your utility.Some pay MORE than retail,lucky you if your utility is one of those.There isnt any set national rate.If you are out to make a profit selling power,not what I would do.If you are out to eliminate or reduce your monthly expenditure for power,that works.

    Some folks are making money/profit selling windplant power.

    Will it ever pay off,hard to predict the future.Personally,it does in my book.Im not there yet,but will be hopefully in the future.I do know offgriders and motorhome users getting most of their power solar and love it,and find it economically viable.Circumstances vrs grid vary also.

    But you cant cob together a system and sell to grid.That equipment must be top of line APPROVED equipment.Inspected,with many components.

    Redroving is knowledgable as he is doing it,listen to him.It does work,paybacks vary wildly as well.

    So many factors,rebates included,to give a blanket answer.

    BooBoo
     
  7. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Many sine wave inverters produce cleaner power than the utilities.

    BooBoo
     
  8. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i suppose my intent is as a hobbiest. i do not wish to endure hardship so i will remain on the grid. i am a great consumer of energy.

    i would like to tinker a bit to get used to the concept and hardware. i would like it to contribute in a positive way financially. i have no intentions of starting a power generation company. i do foresee times when i may not need any energy i am generating. i think selling it would be a good idea.

    i run two computers probably 12 hours or more per day. i also have many poorly insultated rooms with many windows and no central ventilation. this means i use space heaters and/or small air conditioners probably 10 months out of the year. between the two, i can see the possibility of running a circuit for either or both of these functions.

    in the future, i hope many of the devices we use will become more energy efficient. i see room for improvment. lcd and plasma tv's are one example of a device that uses less energy than their predecessor. if they were not so doggone expensive i would have one. i see many other common devices using less energy, possibly even low volt dc. it would be nice to see the majority of devices 12 or 24 volt dc. (i saw a very interesting documentary on alexander bell and the original intention of using dc current not ac) i could invest in a larger screen monitor for my pc that is lcd and get a tv card i suppose. one could then use a laptop and not need ac current (if a solid dc cicuit is made).
    i just wanna get my feet wet in a practical way. i cannot afford, or would i want to try to convert my home to "off-grid" living. at least not right now. but my eyes are open!
     
  9. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    booboo's words; "You can't cob together a system"
    How true...................
    Yes you could set up a system and power dedicated circuits.
    Thats a good way to " get your feet wet"

    But as said you must have good UL equipment--read $$$-- before thinking grid-tie.

    Along that line if you want to work up to grid-tie than wipe those $59 inverters out of your thoughts. By that I mean the cheap stuff.
     
  10. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    If you have a good hydro source, than a small hydro generator will normally be more cost effective than either PV or wind.
    But, thats a big if. You need a descent amount of flow and vertical drop.

    The first thing to do is to measure your streams flow rate and the VERTICAL drop available. Then you can estimate the power you could generate:

    Power available in watts = (Vertical drop in ft)(flow rate in gpm)/8

    So, if the stream drops 20 ft over your property, and the stream can fill a 5 gallon bucket in 5 seconds (60 gpm), then you could generate:

    Power = (60gpm)(20ft)/8 = 150 watts

    That does not sound like an awful lot, but remember its 24 hours a day. It would produce 3.6 KWH a day. About the same as a $9000 solar PV rig.

    Another thing to check on before you get too far into it is what the regulations are on using the water in your stream. Some places are pretty restrictive. You will very likely be required to return the water to the stream at a minimum.

    Take a look here for some more info:
    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Hydro/hydro.htm


    Gary
     
  11. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    You say you use electrice heaters and/or air conditioners for 10 months out of the year.

    Wouldn't it be more cost effective to invest in your home first..before investing in equipment for hydroelectricity? ..(insulation..energy efficient windows..etc.)
     
  12. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I remember I once looked into it for Washington state. It seemed a lot easier to go down that road than to buy batteries (plus, batteries have a limited shelf life). The power company buys power back for what you pay for it, up to what you use in a year.

    So .... you don't have to buy any batteries. You can still use your arc welder. You can use your electric cart. You can use an electric stove/oven/fridge/water heater. The quality/quantity of the power doesn't degrade over time.

    If bad things happen and the grid goes away, you still have power - just not huge amounts of power.
     
  13. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    My Samsung LCD is 12 volt.It has a built in TV tuner,so I can watch TV without the need of a comp.They have models with the tuner built in like mine,syncmaster 1701mp,or tuners that are add ons.So what you want is already here in this instance.

    BooBoo
     
  14. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    If you've got a good stream flow, with at least 20' of drop (head) you can get commercial turbines, or you can home brew a system.

    But, you'll never make enough power for heating or cooling. Those are two of the uses that off grid systems can't effectively/efficiently deal with...unless you overkill your system, and have buckets full of money. NOW, you can run your computers, especially notebooks, directly off of dc power. Lots of the lcd monitors will run straight off of dc. If you can use your dc power directly in appliances, without having to go through an inverter, you'll save a lot of power, besides the added expense of inverters...
     
  15. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i normally use 2 small one room air conditioners. i do not know what they use but really it is not much i think. even if i could rig something to run one a/c it would be a start.
     
  16. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i new this was coming...yes that is currently in progress but very slowly. some things are hard to do when you are living in the house you are remodeling. all of the exterior walls need insulation. (a second story addition is the only area with exterior wall insulation. ) i need to either drill exterior holes into the asbestos siding shingles or rip out the interior horsehair plaster walls and insulate from the inside. but i live here and it is to cold outside to camp now.

    the attic floor is insulated with blown insulation but the ceiling is not. the basement floor used to be insulated with fiberglass but no one secured it and it has fallenand gotten damp on the dirt crawlspace and molded. i got rid of it. the foundation has @ 1 to 2 square feet of "openings" for the fuel line and sump and old utilities i am currently fixing but i need to re-route the fuel line and sump line to do it.

    and finally there are some gaps at the base of the old siding (clapboard cover with asbestos shingles) that allow air to circulate through the non-insulated walls.

    yes this old house needs help. i know what i need to do, but it is slow progress. i am planning next years hobby/project list and home power is on it.


    all of the house has storm windows but all need caulk except the three i have fixed.
     
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  17. Jim-mi

    Jim-mi Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but your a/c units are power guzzlers. Go find on the a/c what it wants to power it and then you can figure what it draws in a day.
    Theres good advice above on hydro. But if you have a stream, brook, creek, that just meanders along (but its pretty to look at).........forget it.

    So like I said above, do a system to power some lights-pc-etc.
     
  18. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    about the hydro power specifically. depending on which of three potential methods i use, 20 feet of head is about what i have at each. i could also make a simpler version closer to home but with only about 6 feet of head.

    there are two springs at the top of a hill behind my house. one has good flow most of the time. last years drought had a serious effect but was the first time in my 35 years of history it has ever been so low. another tends to be seasonal but is located so that i could catch run-off from a large area on a hillside. i have thought of building a pond at one or both locations. i could actually feed the dryer pond from the good spring if i needed to.

    the other possibility is the stream beside my home. it would be a far more reliable source of power as it has never stopped flowing. i have seen various methods for damming and harnessing the stream. i have not decided which method would work best. i would most likely have to dam and drop the water so i would use some variation of a water wheel i suppose.

    if i do it right next to my home i have anywhere from 6-10 feet of head. if i go about a hundred yards from home i can get about 20 feet. i have thought of piping the water from a dam at 20 feet to an area next to my home. HOW MUCH VOLUME OF WATER FROM 20 FEET OF HEAD DO I NEED TO GET A PRACTICAL AMOUNT OF POWER? CAN ANYONE GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES?
     
  19. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i checked the a/c. it does use a bit more than i thought. it uses 620 watts. however my 2 pcs i currently use constantly... draw about the same or more (potentially). one has a 450 watt power supply and the other a 350 or 400 watt.

    i figure an electric space heater draws 1500 watts on the high setting. that is my target.
     
  20. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You might want validate your computer power draw. While the PS might be 450 watts, I am betting your drawing 1/2. Thats what the PS is capabile of, If your drawintg that much power then your need a larger PS. THe tube monitor is usually the biggest power hog in a computer.